Meg Malone’s day began a slow, downward slide at 7:42 a.m., the precise moment she squinted down at the pregnancy test stick in her hand and hoped like hell she’d misread it.
Now, exactly eleven hours and thirteen minutes later, she was sleepy, cranky and spoiling for a fight. And since the jerk she wanted to tell off had moved hundreds of miles away without leaving a forwarding address, the arrogant-looking guy who’d just plopped his denim-clad butt into one of the chairs at the bar table she’d been about to claim would have to suffice.
Meg glared at the interloper, in no mood to fake civility near the end of a long day that had shaken both her personal and professional lives. “I was about to sit here.”
Even in the crowded bar, her voice carried further than she wanted. She winced. Why’d she have to sound so strident? She wasn’t bitchy by nature. And even if she was, she shouldn’t vent her frustration on this golden-eyed table thief.
Unperturbed by her tone, the stranger reached a well-muscled arm up to turn his baseball cap backward, obscuring the logo before she could recognize it. Then he tipped his head up to look at her. Meg felt his insolent gaze as it roamed over her, annoyed by her nipples’ response when his eyes lingered on her breasts. Anyone who ogled her like that—even with eyes the color of a perfectly browned croissant—probably did deserve her rudeness.
He winked. “Looks like I beat you to it, little lady.”
Meg narrowed her eyes and stood a little straighter. Yep. He definitely deserved it. At 5 feet, 9 1/2 inches, no one had ever dared call her “little” anything before. She opened her mouth to tell this jerk exactly that, but he didn’t give her a chance.
“I’ll buy you a drink if you join me.” He used his foot to shove one of the other two chairs at the table toward her.
She glanced from the chair to her coworkers, who were gathered around a pool table. They’d come to the bar to celebrate their continued employment at Tooley, Hamilton & Smith. They were luckier than the three-person sales/design team laid off that afternoon. Her friend Stephanie flirted with Perry the ad rep, and the other three were wrapped up in a game of pool.
Meg really needed to get off her feet before she collapsed.
“I might as well,” she agreed, irritated both with Stephanie, who hadn’t followed her as she’d asked, and this ball-cap-wearing seat stealer. He continued to eye her the way a starving man drools over a steak dinner, the corners of his lips quirking up into a mischievous half-smile. That grin hinted at a warm sense of humor. One of the first attributes she sought in a man.
As Meg slid into the seat he’d so ungraciously offered, she ordered her unruly hormones to simmer down. A man was the last thing she needed tonight. Or maybe ever again. “Didn’t your mother ever teach you not to stare?”
“Sorry.” The word was an apology, but he didn’t look the least bit contrite. “I can’t help staring at beautiful women. It’s my biggest character flaw.”
Beautiful? After the day she’d had? Confirming she was pregnant, fighting off morning sickness…all day long…and dealing with a fresh round of layoffs at the foundering ad agency she worked for… Even a blind man would know she looked like hell.
Despite her bad mood and his too-obvious pickup line, Meg found herself smiling at the guy. After all, it took guts to tell such a blatant lie. And it’d be nice to talk to a brave man for a change. Her ex, who’d run off to Vegas last month to try his hand at the professional poker circuit, had certainly been lacking in that department.
Besides, with her friends otherwise occupied, she had nothing to do but make conversation.
After enduring his appraisal, she had no qualms about completing one of her own. She slid her gaze from the tuft of thick, chestnut hair poking through the back of his burgundy-and-white cap downward, over his golden-brown eyes, straight nose and smiling mouth. She took in his toned arms, broad chest, tree-trunk thighs and—oh my.
Perhaps he had good reason for his arrogance. Meg jerked her eyes back to his face. After they’d mentally stripped each other, it didn’t feel right to not know the man’s name. She extended her hand. “I’m Meg.”
He eyed her outstretched hand and his lips lifted again. She grinned back as she rescinded her offer. He was right. They already knew each other too well for a mere handshake.
Awareness jolted through Meg when he rested a hand on her knee. “Matt.”
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